It’s a common problem these days: switching between browser tabs and apps on your phone, checking social media and messages and email, thinking about the million things you have to do but putting them off …
Anything but staying focused on one task at a time.
And it’s hard to break out of the mental habit of switching, being distracted, letting the monkey mind jump from one shiny thing to the next.
So how do you train your mind to stay more focused? It’s possible to get better at focusing, but I don’t recommend expecting to be focused anywhere close to 100 percent of the time. Not even 80 percent, and perhaps not 50 percent. Just more than now, which is more than enough to see big differences in effectiveness in your day.
Recently I took on a coaching client, and his biggest area for improvement is focus. So I gave him a plan, and I’m going to share it with you here.
There have been nights I lay awake for hours imagining what my life would be like if all my problems were gone. If I had no debt, all the education I could ever need or want, a full up-to-date wardrobe, the perfect hair, body, and smile; how my life would be so easy. I could wake up every morning feeling like I am on top of the world, and never have to feel tired or stressed. Life would be perfect…or would it? Finding your inner self is something that many people struggle with. Once you find it, your life can be the best it has ever been. The importance of knowing your inner self is that it brings you balance as well as peace in your day-to-day life. Who wouldn’t want that?
1. Remembering Who You Are
The first thing to do to understand what makes you special is to look at what you are on the inside and not on the outside. Let go of the need to be loved by everyone, and make a list of your values, goals, morals, and beliefs. The inner you is made up of who you are on the inside, from what makes you sad to what makes you happy. Becoming in-tuned to your inner self is vital to being happy.
One of the most important things you can do in your career, business, and life is pay attention to details. With very few exceptions, the most successful people I have met always have an extraordinary ability to pay attention to even the smallest details. In fact, the more you examine successful people, the more it becomes clear that they are often obsessed and incredibly knowledgeable about details.
In my house, shows like The Hills and so forth are on all the time. (A quick aside: I was at a party a few years ago where I had to sign a bunch of releases because the back of my head was apparently on camera when they were taping the show.) A lot of the good-looking young people on these shows are very, very successful. Watching them, though, it is hard to understand why they are so successful, because none of them seem all that intelligent. In fact, the shows are often comical because the kids seem so concerned about surface-level sorts of things. If you tried to speak with any of these kids about anything mildly intellectual, it seems as if their eyes would glaze over and they probably would not be too interested in whatever you were talking about. When I first started meeting successful Hollywood types years ago, I was baffled. Most of them did not seem all that intelligent, and they seemed mostly preoccupied with superficial things that seemed relatively unimportant to me. Frankly, I did not understand how these people could be doing so well.
As virtues go, patience is a quiet one.
It’s often exhibited behind closed doors, not on a public stage: A father telling a third bedtime story to his son, a dancer waiting for her injury to heal. In public, it’s the impatient ones who grab all our attention: drivers honking in traffic, grumbling customers in slow-moving lines. We have epic movies exalting the virtues of courage and compassion, but a movie about patience might be a bit of a snoozer.
Yet patience is essential to daily life—and might be key to a happy one. Having patience means being able to wait calmly in the face of frustration or adversity, so anywhere there is frustration or adversity—i.e., nearly everywhere—we have the opportunity to practice it. At home with our kids, at work with our colleagues, at the grocery store with half our city’s population, patience can make the difference between annoyance and equanimity, between worry and tranquility.
Deep breathing can release stress and provide other noticeable health benefits. You will likely feel calmer after performing deep breathing exercises, and may trade feelings of anger or fear for a focused, relaxed state of mind. Deep breathing is sometimes used to treat anxiety disorders, sleep problems and even general body aches and pains.
The Natural Painkiller
Deep breathing releases endorphins throughout the body. Endorphins are feel-good, natural painkillers created by our own bodies. When practicing deep breathing, the upward and downward movement of the diaphragm helps remove toxins from the organs, promoting better blood flow. Oxygen provides energy, which means that we are creating an increase in our energy level by breathing deeply. Learning a few techniques and taking just a few moments each day to practice some deep breathing exercises can decrease stress, relax your mind and body and help you sleep better.